The Proverbs 31 woman has held the highest regard of all women. When we think of her, we remember her noble works. She works hard, does good, provides for her family, uses money wisely, helps the poor, and stands with strength. Men hope to one day find her. Us women, however, often live in a love-hate relationship with her—we envy her perfection and wish we had the means and time to do all that she did.
In my striving to be godly woman and wife (and future mother) I become discouraged with this woman. How does she do all that she does? I try to fulfill my to-do list with the same activities as her: teaching, service, housework, cooking, jobs, and loving my husband, all the while forcing myself to have a blessed attitude about everything. In the midst, studying theology and reading my Bible are at the bottom of my to-do list.
In such a pursuit, I forget that the foundations for such a woman is not works, but theology. A woman who is a theologian first can in turn do the good works, teach with wisdom, discern truth, smile at the future, and fear God. Each of these aspects that make up her godly beauty begin with a firm knowledge of the truth.
“She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.”
Proverbs 31:20 NASB
Out of our overflowing love for God, we seek to serve Him. We offer sacrifices of obedience to God to give Him thanks for His abundant grace towards us. But such an offering is not done by a heart that is ignorant of the truth. Rather, our joyful service and obedience can only be produced from a heart that rejoices in what it knows about God.
In the beginning of his letter to the Colossians, Paul prayed, “to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:9-10 NASB). He asked that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will (His Word) so that they would walk in a worthy manner. Your worthy walk is produced from a mind that knows the truth. That is why Paul often begins his letters with doctrine and ends in practical guidance.
In order to serve God in a way that honours Him and walk in a manner worthy of Him, we must first understand and know Him. How can you walk in Christ if you do not know Christ? In order to walk like He did, you must know how He walked. How can you discern what the will of God is if you do not know what He has asked of you?
If our obedience is not based on our love and fear of the Lord, which comes from our knowledge of Him, our motives can easily become misplaced to pleasing man or seeking what’s in it for us. Our works risk becoming the dead works of a Pharisee who does good out of dreadful duty and strives to be seen by all who will watch. But if we root our deeds in what we know about Christ and a gratitude for what have learned about Him, then our motives will be properly placed.
“She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
Proverbs 31:26 NASB
The Proverbs 31 woman is not the only woman called to teach. God has given women opportunities to teach—we are called to teach our children the ways of God (Ephesians 6:4) and younger women of the faith (Titus 2:3-5). This is a part of our duty as Christian women. We can fulfill this duty in the comfort of our homes through living room Bible studies and family devotions, or inside the church in Sunday School classes or kids’ church.
With the command to teach, we are also given the solemn warning to do so wisely. Teaching wisely requires a careful study of God’s Word so that we know the truth and do not stray into error. We need to hide the Word in our hearts. We cannot expect to teach wisely and accurately by grabbing two verses from the Bible the day of and asking how it makes you feel. The Bible deserves your careful attention in studying and teaching it.
With teaching the Word, we must also be diligent to watch for false teaching. False teachers are always lurking and waiting to sell us their unbiblical doctrine. Paul warned Timothy of this; in the midst of describing the coming false teachers, he adds this to their description: “For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7 ESV).
Ladies, we do not have to give way to their deceit. We can be strong. We do not need to be “weak women” who are easily captured by deceit. God has given us His Holy Spirit to teach us the truth so that we can reject the false teachings. If we apply ourselves to study theology and know the truth, the stink of error will become immediately obvious to us. By carefully teaching others the truth, we will be helping them build their guard against the false teaching that will come to tempt them.
Smiling at the Future
“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.”
Proverbs 31:25 NASB
We know that on earth, we will never be free from trials. Though we cannot be free from them, we can joyfully endure them. Such joy does not merely come from forced positivity, but rather a knowledge of the truth that we apply to hearts.
When we understand that our God is good despite our pain, we can find peace and smile at the future. When we know what awaits us after this earth, we can find hope. When we know that all of this is working together for a greater good, we can rejoice.
And this is not only in the face of physical difficulties, but also in the emotional, unseen struggles. What I know about God’s sovereignty calms my anxious heart. What I know about the faithfulness of God eases the grip of doubt.
Though we may feel the pain of suffering forever, our theology can shape the way we handle such pain and can give us an unexplainable peace that only God can create. Our knowledge points us to the eternal ways of God and shows us that there is hope even when hope has become foreign.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30 NASB
If all else is meaningless to you, know this: God is worthy to be known. God has graciously supplied us with His Words, and they are worthy of our time and effort to study them. Commit yourself to knowing His Word, knowing His character.
To fear the Lord is to know the Lord. When we catch a glimpse of His eternality, His splendor, His power, His wrath, His grace, His wisdom, we cannot help but fear Him. If you want a relationship with God, it begins with studying Him and knowing Him. Stop seeking out extra means to know God, and be content with the means He has already given us: the sufficient Word of God.
I spent years trying to find and know God outside of His Word. I tried listening for Him in the wind, I wanted to know Him through forms of mysticism, but all of that proved futile. Every time I left those experiences disappointed. But God’s Word never disappoints, it never comes away unproductive (Isaiah 55:10-11).
Though we are unable to fully comprehend our glorious God, we can see in part through studying His Word. And as we continue to learn about Him, we will grow in our fear of Him.
Friend, this does not need to be a daunting, frightening task. Start small and read a book like Jen Wilkin’s, “None Like Him.” Spend more time in the Word of God, carefully studying it in full context. As your thirst and time grows, try tackling a systematic theology book. This should not be burden but a joy to know God more and understand what His Word says.